In a move that could mark the dawn of a new era for air travel, Emirates on Wednesday became the first airline to begin testing passengers on-site for COVID-19 prior to departure.
The state-owned carrier of the United Arab Emirates is working with the country’s health officials to conduct the rapid COVID-19 tests. The initiative kicked off on an April 15 flight from Dubai to Tunisia for which all passengers were tested for COVID-19 before boarding in Dubai. The quick blood tests were conducted in the group check-in area of Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 by the Dubai Health Authority, and results were available within 10 minutes.
Emirates passengers are also required to wear their own masks when at the airport and onboard the aircraft. Barriers have been installed at each check-in desk to provide an additional layer of protection for passengers and staff, and gloves, masks, and hand sanitizers are now mandatory for all employees at the Dubai airport. The airline has also adapted its check-in and boarding procedures to incorporate social distancing measures that have been recommended by public health experts.
Emirates’ chief operating officer Adel Al Redha said in a statement that the airline is working with the country’s healthy authorities on plans to scale up COVID-19 testing capabilities and extend them to other flights.